“Fear – This Is How To Use It In A Negotiation” – Negotiation Insight

“Fear manifests in one’s mind. To thwart fear’s feeling, prepare for adverse outcomes, but don’t borrow the fear of it becoming imaginable.” – Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (click to Tweet)

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“Fear – This Is How To Use It In A Negotiation”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

When fear besets you, think about what occurs in your mind. Fear evokes the fight or flight syndrome. And your thoughts are fed by the degree of anxiety you experience. And that’s a factor per how it threatens your livelihood or wellbeing. Now imagine being engulfed in a negotiation. Do you see how easily your tension can become ratcheted up? That means you’ll be less likely to think and function logically. Consider the following to use and protect yourself from fear during your negotiations.

Identifying Fear Process

Think about one of the most fearful times you’ve experienced and note your body’s reaction. Now consider projecting such feelings into the mind and thought process of your negotiation opponent. From that brief example, you can feel the magnitude that fear can have on a negotiation. And that’s why you must exercise caution when implementing the following thoughts during your talks.

While fear can have a devastating effect on the discussions, devastation can stem from the exacerbated anxiety you and your counterpart experience. And that can derail a negotiation. To offset that possibility, note the following.

Identifying Negotiator Type

As you’re aware, some people are fearless, and some are fearful in the same environment. Thus, to assess when and how you might induce an aspect of fear into a negotiation, you must consider the type of person with whom you’re dealing. For the:

Skittish negotiator – You might consider being mindful that the slightest amount of fear might cause him to become erratic. And if he becomes erratic, you may lose control of how you direct his actions. With this type, move slowly with the introduction of fear factors. You want to gauge his responses each time you apply a stimulus to determine when to infuse him with another one.

Go-Along-To-Get-Along – While they’d be a need to be cautious of creating fear in your negotiation with this type, your concerns wouldn’t have to be as palatable as with the skittish type. This individual will allow you to lead him until he becomes too nervous about continuing to follow you. And that’s what you must be aware of – the point at which he becomes too uncomfortable.

Rigid or Bully Type of Negotiator – Using fear as a factor with this type of person can be daunting. First, most likely, he’ll challenge your assertions. He may even respond by injecting a counter fear into the negotiation. If that occurs, the negotiation may be at the gate of a path that leads to an impasse. At a minimum, you could be in for a tough negotiation. Therefore, with this individual type, utilize the tactic of fear sparingly. And when you use it, be prepared to fend off any negativity that may come from your efforts.  

Degrees of Fear


A mild amount of fear might be something that makes the other negotiator wonder about his worst-case scenario.


A medium amount of fear might consist of him seeing his worst-case scenario coming to fruition.


This level of fear might be akin to having the other negotiator sensing he’s in quicksand, with you withdrawing your lifeline. In this case, the more he envisions the scenario as being upon him, depending on his type, the more he’ll react.

It bears worth reiterating, be aware of the negotiator type and the degree of fear you inject into a negotiation, along with the timing, to maximize your efforts.

Using Fear In The Negotiation

1. Assemble fear factors that apply to the negotiation in which you’ll engage, based on the negotiator type you’ll be engaging.

2. In the planning phase of how you’ll implement fear factors, consider responses you’ll have to each one. Also, consider how your answer may require on-the-spot modification. That effort will help you from becoming victim to your ploy due to being caught off guard.

3. Insert aspects of fear into the negotiation when it’s most advantageous. For example, suppose you know the other negotiator is concerned about losing your deal and not having another source. In that case, you might use stalling as a factor to induce more significant anxiety in him. You might also rachet up his fear by introducing another party into the negotiation that saught your offerings.

4. Consider at what point you’ll alleviate the pressures of fear to persuade your counterpart to stay aligned with your requests. As stated previously, too much fear might evoke erratic behavior.

5. Cycle through steps 3 and 4 as needed. Be mindful of when to break the cycle due to the gains you’ve made.   

Fear takes on the meaning of the person experiencing it. Thus, you must be laser-like in your negotiation to make this tool potent. Once you master its use, you’ll take your negotiation abilities to an upward level that’ll amaze you.


Fear is a source of motivation in every negotiation. Thus, negotiators instinctively, or unknowingly, measure their fear factors in degrees. And that causes the magnification of their actions – sometimes reacting differently in the same negotiation to the same fear stimuli you introduced earlier.

If you wish to heighten your negotiation position during your negotiation efforts, consider how you’ll utilize the powerful tool of fear. But be mindful of how you use it too. Given its potency, you must use it judiciously. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://c-suitenetwork.com/radio/shows/greg-williams-the-master-negotiator-and-body-language-expert-podcast/

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

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